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WDunawayWilma A. Dunaway, a professor of public and international affairs at Virginia Tech and a three-degree alumna of UT’s Department of Sociology, will return to campus on Monday, April 13, as the department’s Distinguished Alumna Speaker.

Dunaway will present “My Journey: Appalachia, Civil Rights Activism, and Revisionist Scholarship” at 5:00 p.m. in the Toyota Auditorium of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Ave.

Jon Shefner, the Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor of Social Science and head of the sociology department, will present Dunaway with a Distinguished Alumna Award following the lecture.

Dunaway has a unique biography connected to Appalachia, UT, and the city of Knoxville. As a racially mixed undergraduate—the daughter of a Cherokee father and an Irish mother—she entered UT in 1962, during the university’s time of voluntary desegregation. She served as associate director of the Knoxville Area Urban League from 1969 to 1979 and was involved in Knoxville’s federal court case over school desegregation, on which she wrote her master’s thesis.

As a civil rights activist, Dunaway was in Memphis in April 1968 waiting to march in the garbage workers’ strike on the day when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot.

She has written extensively on Appalachian topics including the region’s transition to capitalism between 1700 and 1860 and the roles of women, work, family, and slavery in the mountain South. Dunaway has also written on the African American family in slavery and emancipation and the economic role of women in global economies.

The Distinguished Alumni program recognizes notable alumni for their success and distinction within their field. A variety of outstanding alumni have been featured through this program, including CEOs of major corporations, Olympians, authors, artists, musicians, United States ambassadors, and civic leaders.

Parking for the event is available in the Volunteer Hall Garage at 1549 White Avenue. Allow time for delays caused by the roadwork on Cumberland Avenue.

Dunaway is available for interviews by phone this week, in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon, April 11, or after the lecture on Monday. To make arrangements, please contact Paul Gellert at 865-387-3266 (cell).


Brooks Clark (865-974-5471,